The Frayer method: teaching vocabulary in the science content area for middle school life science

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Letters & Science


Teaching techniques that allow students to define new vocabulary words and then use them in science context is difficult and a challenge for many science teachers today. Ensuring their students get a good foundational background and can understand the information they read and to fully participate in class discussion is a key motivator. This action research project set out to design, implement and utilize the Frayer Model for vocabulary instruction and compare it to traditional means of vocabulary acquisition. Instead of having my students define vocabulary words from the text, I had students use the Frayer Model -- Graphic Organizer in vocabulary groups for the new terms they were required to learn. Students then had to demonstrate they could define and use the new terms contextually. Qualitative and quantitative data modes were utilized to collect data to analyze if the testing method made a difference to my students' understanding of vocabulary. Students were given a pre-test before new words were assigned and an identical post-test when the terms were learned. The pre- and post-tests data were compared using normalized gains to record growth in students' ability with definition and contextual use of terms. A paired t-test was then conducted with the normalized gains data to discover whether the changes were significant or chance. The comparison and post-implementation survey were administered to students. This qualitative, nonparametric data tool will be evaluated using a frequency method to determine the connections of student perceptions to students' desires to read. A vocabulary knowledge scale tool and a student-teacher post implementation survey were conducted to determine teaching efficiencies and inefficiencies. Analyzed data revealed no significant educational gains using the Frayer Method. Data also revealed students did not perceive a gain in their learning either, however, students did report they still wanted to use the graphic organizer. As the instructor, I gained an incredible amount of information about my teaching techniques and the importance of using multiple methods of vocabulary instruction in my classroom.




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